Thursday, 19 January 2017

More on the SPLC's hate crime data

Last week, I posted about the Southern Poverty Law Centre's post-election hate crime report. The post showed that Hillary vote share is positively associated with SPLC hate crimes per capita across US states, but is not associated with a measure of hate crimes per capita based on FBI data. This suggests that the SPLC data might have included a non-trivial number of false reports.

However, as Emil Kirkegaard pointed out, the FBI hate crime measure might be invalid itself––i.e., might not be a good measure of the true frequency of hate crimes. To check this, and to further investigate the possibility of false reports in the SPLC data, I obtained two measures of racial prejudice and one objective measure of violent crime. The two measures of racial prejudice are: N-word search frequency (taken from Google), and years with anti-miscegenation laws (taken from the Washington Post). The measure of violent crime is simply the homicide rate, taken from the FBI

Consistent with the claim that the FBI measure is invalid, it was negatively correlated with both measures of racial prejudice, as well as homicide rate. Thus, rather than capturing the true frequency of hate crimes, it probably just picks up state-level differences in how certain crimes are reported. 


However, all three new measures were also negatively correlated with SPLC hate crimes per capita, which calls into question the veracity of the SPLC's data. Results are shown below.


Finally, Hillary vote share is not significantly correlated with any of the three new measures (but is positively correlated with SPLC hate crimes per capita).


Incidentally, homicide rate was strongly associated with both N-word search frequency (r = .61) and years with anti-miscegenation laws (r = .56), but these two variables were only weakly associated with one another (r = .25).

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